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Your Social Media coming back to haunt you - Chapter Two: Imagery

January 15th, 2020

The last time I addressed this subject, it was somewhat on the "topics" you talk about, on social media and how they can potentially affect your business or career (The example used was talking about extremely left-wing politics in a very Conservative town, publicly, and how that had the potential for hurting your employment or business)

I want to talk about the "how" you talk in public. By "public", I mean Facebook groups or pages, Instagram or Twitter accounts, web comment boards and the like that are viewed by a large portion of your "local" community - Be that physically local to where you live, or "local", in terms of your industry peers, colleagues and friends.

There are two things to consider - We'll deal with the easiest one, first: Social media profiles and imagery. (The next article will be how you talk/write in social media groups) I am talking about what the public can see, if they are not "friends" with you, or even if they are not logged in to the social media site. The easiest way for you to see this, yourself, is simply to log out of, for example, Facebook, and then navigate back to your profile picture. What can you see ?

Man chugging beerMany social media sites have a default setting of "global/public" for profile pictures and background pictures - You can set to "private" or "friends-only" for everything else you post, but not your profile image. This is what can get people into a lot of trouble - and often, they don't even know it.

According to several interviews with many, many HR professionals, the two biggest "turn-offs" for hiring managers are imagery of drugs or excessive alcohol use. In other words: You with a glass of wine at dinner, or a beer in hand, at a campfire: Perfectly fine.
You, passed out in a sea of empty beer cans, with pictures drawn in permanent marker on your face ? Not so good.

Man smoking jointDrugs are a universal no-no. Even in jurisdictions where some of them are legal (Canada and marijuana, for example), a picture of you smoking a joint, over a bong, cutting into a cake shaped like a marijuana leaf: Those will hurt your chances of being hired - Keep those pictures private. I could not even begin to tell you of how many people I have known, in my life, who posted photos like that, when they were in their late teens or early twenties with the exclamation of "Man! This isn't a big deal - I wouldn't want to work for someone who hated on me for this, anyway!" - and then, ten years later, as their professional career starts to grow - those same people either kicking themselves, when the images come back to haunt them, or thanking their lucky stars that they scrubbed such content from the 'net, before it did.

The reason for all of the above ? One of the first things a hiring manager does - be they hiring for McDonalds or Microsoft - is to do a quick google and social media search on your name and home town. At the end of the day: Everything you post about may well be perfectly legal and with consenting adults, but: When the choice is between you and "those" photos and the person competing for the same job or client, but does not have any such imagery showing - Guess who gets the call ? (Hint: Not you)

As always: If you have questions or commentary, feel free to email me at or comment on the CanadianISP Facebook page at

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